Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chapter 13: Part 4 - Going Back Home

Mom and Dad go through the same ritual of closing up their condo as they do their house back home. They turn off the water and the phone, stop the mail, clean their apartment, and since the ant incident, they set ant traps, too. In Florida, they also hire a man to check on their apartment once a month while they are gone to make sure the Florida humidity doesn’t ruin anything inside. And of course, last but not least, they have to wrap their toilet in plastic wrap. I told Dad that he should suggest ‘The Art of Toilet Wrapping’ as a new activity at the Harbor View clubhouse.

After all of their last-minute going-out activities and the closing up of their apartment, Mom and Dad are finally ready to leave. Mom says the long drive home is not nearly as much fun as the drive down. Not that the drive down is too much fun to begin with, but she says there is some sort of excitement in the air as if they are going on an adventure.

Mom tells me that it is actually somewhat depressing driving home. As they drive farther and farther north, the seasons change from summer in Florida to spring in the Carolinas to not quite spring where they live, she says. The trees have fewer and fewer leaves on them, and the temperature gets colder and colder, she adds. I get depressed for them just thinking about it, but then I remember that I have spent almost my whole winter in the cold climate, while they have lounged in sunny Florida, and then I don’t feel so bad for them, after all.

This year Mom and Dad stopped at my house near DC on their way home (without getting lost on the way, for a change). They excitedly told me all about their last few days in Florida. “The ‘Young in Spirit’ club had a Farewell Dinner Dance. They rented a room in the clubhouse, and we danced and ate with all of our friends and had a great time. Then the day before we left Dad and I sat at the pool one last time. It was gorgeous out,” Mom tells me.

“Are you going to miss Harbor View this summer?” I ask Mom.

“Well, I’m really looking forward to seeing the grandkids, and we’re happy to see you, and we’ll be glad to visit with your brother and your sister. But I will miss the beautiful weather, The Characters, the activities, the shopping, and all of the delicious food, of course,” Mom replies.

“Don’t worry, Hon,” Dad says, “the way I figure it, there are only eight more months till we go back to Florida.”

“And,” I add, “only six more until you start packing.”

The End

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chapter 13; Part 3 - Going Back Home

While going out ‘one last time,’ Mom and Dad and their friends always talk about keeping in touch during the summer months.

“I’ll call you on the weekends,” Sylvia says to Mom, “I get free weekends on my cell phone.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Mom answers, even though she dislikes talking through the static on those types of telephones.

“What’s your e-mail address?” Phyllis asks Mom. “We have to keep in touch.”

“I can’t remember. I’ll have to ask my husband,” Mom answers. Mom, whose limited interest in activities does not include learning how to use the computer, does not want to admit that she relies on Dad to send and respond to e-mails.

Most of their friends from the ‘Young in Spirit’ club also make plans to get together once during the summer, as they do every year. In the past several summers they have met in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Why Atlantic City?” I ask Mom, “It’s so grungy there.”

“Well, there’s free bus service by the casinos from most of the Northeast cities,” she answers.

“Well, I guess that makes sense since not all of them drive. And the fact that it’s free; you and your friends can’t pass up a good bargain,” I say.

“Plus they have all-you-can-eat buffets at a lot of the casinos,” she adds.

“Now it really explains things. It reminds all of you of Florida, huh?”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chapter 13; Part 2 - Going Back Home

About two weeks before Mom and Dad leave Florida, they start doing their ‘one last time’ routine – they have to go shopping at such and such store ‘one last time.’ They want to eat at their three favorite restaurants ‘one last time.’ They need to see their five closest friends ‘one last time.’

“Hon, I want to go to Coral Sands Mall one last time before we go home,” Mom says. “There are a couple of stores that I want to shop at that we don’t have back home.”

“Fine,” Dad replies. “One last time is all I can take of that place.”

“We have a lot of evening plans this week and next,” Mom informs Dad. “We’re getting together with Sylvia and her new boyfriend on Monday night, Minnie and Hymie on Wednesday night, and Phyllis and Herb on Thursday night.”

“Boy, that’s a lot of going out for one week.” Dad replies.

“Well, we’re going to be staying in on Saturday night,” Mom tells him. “I invited Herb and Phyllis and Stan and Susan over for coffee and cake. Oh, yeah, and on Sunday evening Flo and Irv invited us over.”

“Flo and Irv? But we don’t need to go out with them one last time. We’ll see them back home in Pennsylvania.”

“Flo said she wanted to see us one more time in Florida. For some reason it’s just not the same when we go out with them back home.”

“I hope we are at least going to some restaurants that I like,” Dad says.

“Oh yeah, your favorites – Finnochio’s on Monday, Wu’s on Wednesday, and Bubbe’s on Thursday.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chapter 13; Part 1 - Going Back Home

As February turns to March, the talk around Harbor View starts to change to the topic of going back home.

“When are you leaving for New York, Phyllis?” Mom asks.

“We’re leaving early this year – March 24. I really don’t want to, but we have a wedding near Boston in late March. How about you?”

“I think we’re going to leave in the beginning of April.”

“I hope you have your reservations for the train. They get really swamped in April.”

“Oh, no; we drive,” Mom replies.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 9 - Visitors

If you do visit Florida, one week you want to avoid going to Harbor View or any other development, for that matter, is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Not only because it is when all of the tourists come and the airfares are at their highest, but because it is the only time that Harbor View (and similar developments, I’m sure) appears to be a summer camp for children, rather than a retirement community. Everyone’s children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and even friends of nieces and nephews, who are off from school, come to visit that week. If you want to come to Florida to relax, then Christmas week is not the time to do it. There are kids splashing in the pool; there is noise from the children in the neighboring apartments; and there are long waits at all of the restaurants. (Of course there are always long waits at restaurants, but they are even longer during Christmas week.)

The other difference during Christmas week is that The Characters are usually on their best behavior. Sure they do the expected bragging to their friends and neighbors, or anyone who will listen, about their son ‘the dentist’ and their granddaughter the ‘third-grade genius.’ But because they have guests, they don’t seem to talk unkindly about each other as much as they do during the regular season. And overall, the residents seem just a little more ordinary.

So even though I now bring a child with me when I visit Mom and Dad, I try to make sure we go later in the winter, because I just don’t think you can get a true taste of Harbor View during Christmas week. “No,” I decide for certain later, after hearing Mom tell me yet another story of some of The Characters’ antics during the regular season, “going during Christmas week just wouldn’t be worth it.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 8 - Visitors

Another favorite pastime of Mom and Dad’s and other residents of Harbor View, it seems, is watching the weather on the news – not to see the forecast of South Florida. Oh no, they want to see what awful weather they are missing back home. Chilly and mid-30’s back home? My parents are happy. A blustery cold with chance of snow flurries? Mom and Dad are beaming. A few inches of snow back in Pennsylvania? My parents are absolutely giddy. And the more and more footage they show on the news of the blowing wind, the snow falling down, tires spinning in the snow, people shoveling their driveways, and the lines inside the supermarkets, the happier they are.

And it doesn’t matter that I live in the DC area where the weather is currently sunny and dry, if it’s snowing “Up North” it must be snowing near where I live. We’ll walk over to my parents’ friends’ home, and Mom’s friend will comment, “You must be glad you came down here this week – you’re missing all that snow.”

“Um, I don’t think it snowed in DC this week. It’s up in the New York and Pennsyvlania area.”

“Well, I heard it’s going to be all over “up north” in the next few days. It’s best if you stay down here.”

“Umm sure,” I reply. Yet, when I look at the forecast later, it clearly says mid-40s for the whole week in DC.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chapter 12; Part 7 - Visitors

One pastime Dad and Mom love to do with me when I visit them in Florida is to point out everyone’s age. Dad especially enjoys this. He boasts about it like it’s some kind of accomplishment.

“See that man over there?” he says to me one day at the pool, “He’s 85. Doesn’t he look no more than 70?”

“Well, it’s hard for me to tell, Dad,” I say.

“And you know my friend Harold? He’s 77. He still plays tennis every day – sometimes twice a day,” Dad brags.

“That’s impressive,” I reply.

“And there’s an absolutely adorable couple who live next door to Flo and Irv. He’s 84 and she’s 81. They go out almost every night to dinner, and he’s still driving,” Mom chimes in.

“They sound adorable,” I say, although I cannot picture an old couple that I would describe as ‘adorable.’

“And that nice man who lives downstairs from us,” Mom continues, “He’s got himself a girlfriend.”

“Wouldn’t that be ladyfriend, Mom? I bet she’s at least 75,” I ask.

“Actually, she’s 88. And he calls her his girlfriend,” Mom answers.